Around the World with Orson Welles
Episode 5: London – The Queen’s Pensioners
Director: Orson Welles
UK / 1955 / 27 min
In this episode: While in London, Welles charms a group of widows at an almshouse in Hackney before visiting an old soldiers’ homes in Chelsea.
Around the World with Orson Welles: Featuring cameos by Elaine Dundy, Kenneth Peacock Tynan, Jean Cocteau, and the birthplace of Sacher torte, this freewheeling travel program made for British television, written and directed by and starring Welles, showcases his innate ability to remain charming and captivating while bullshitting through all sorts of situations. Though some of this formal looseness arose from the director’s inability to stick to the unrealistic, grueling deadlines dictated in his contract (25 episodes in 25 weeks!), the six extant episodes of this marvelous little series balance the baroque charms of Vienna with visits to English pensioners and extremely unique, desperately under-seen footage of the Basque country and its ancient culture. These unpretentious glimpses at mid-century Europe—of things that had almost disappeared back then—is a grand tour of a bygone era with an even grander host.